FEBRUARY 18th 2017

Review by Lana Muirhead

Every once in a while – and not nearly often enough, I might add – there’s a song, an album, a band itself, that speaks to you in a way that just cannot be put into words. As a writer that’s the equivalent of being a diabetic locked overnight in a candy store. That’s only because you’re stuck feeling so much without the words to articulate it all.

For those of you who have caught a review or two of mine, you’ll know that the first time I saw and wrote about The Wild! I called them an up-and-coming band to watch. I change my tune only insofar as to say that they continually bring it and I am continually impressed by their music. Not only is the band tighter than a nun’s hoohah, but Dylan Villain (lead guitar and vocals), Boozus (bass, backing vocals), The Kid (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), and Reese Lightning (drums) have worked out a formula to ensure a lasting presence on the music scene. With the industry flood of overnight “YouTube Sensations”, staying power is one of the elements that escapes the many.  Well, The Wild! have tapped that sweet nectar and they’re doing keg stands.

Their sophomore album, Wild At Heart, sees them relax slightly from their high-grade octane April 2015 release GxDxWxB. That’s not to say that there’s any less to be excited about because these guys still live, breathe, and bleed the God Damn Wild Boys life.  Part of that can be credited to returning producer, mixer, and engineer Mike Fraser.  I was hungry through track one of a 10-track list and by the end The Wild! had me begging for more.

Overall, you can expect driving guitar riffs, a pumping and chugging rhythm section, and signature Villain vocals.  They maintain their outlaw sound fusion of blues, rock, and (less so on this album) punk, which sets them far apart from the mainstream “rock” world of today.  Though radio-friendly, this is still the stuff of cries to “Turn that down!” of yore.

Opening track “Ready To Roll” was the first single off the album and seemed like a baby step in getting to know the band. Like gentlemen, they eased the listener into their nitty gritty world with all the elements of a rock’n’roll track, including soulful vocals, moderate pacing, and catchy melodies.  They drive a little deeper on “Livin’ Free” and introduce you to backing vocalist Boozus, whose gravelly, up-all-night smokin’ and drinkin’ sound compliments the Villain’s raspy croon. When talking tracks, there’s always a few that stick out and with Wild At Heart, there was no exception.  If “Ready To Roll” opened the door a crack, “White Devil” blew it off the hinges with a cannon.  A hard and fast hit of pure rock’n’roll drama crescendoing with rip-roaring screams that make you want to headbang, air guitar, and start a bar brawl all at once.  The band steps back a bit to observe the damages on “Another Bottle” then storms through the remains with “Best In The West”.Boasting speedy and intricate guitar lines and a full frontal reminder of what the outlaw lifestyle of hard rock is all about.

“Six Hundred and Sixty-Six” was the shortest track on the album and for me held the least impact on an otherwise strong record.  It was obviously a fun track to lay for all parties but moving into “Rattlesnake Shake” it was an easier one to forget.  The “-Shake” really bled the band’s influences of rock and blues genres, but despite the history running through their veins, it is abundantly clear that The Wild! are their own force to be reckoned with.  Nowhere is this more evident than when things slow down a moment, like on “Run Home”.  Easing into second gear, Dylan Villain’s vocals shine while his rhapsodizing guitar tap-dances over the grooving foundation that is Boozus and Lightning. The Kid ties it up with a noose weaving in and out to driving beats.  If you weren’t feeling frisky yet I dare you to make it through that one without wanting to throw down.

“Down At The Bottom” could be considered every down and dirty rocker’s anthem; harmonized vocals and a heavy rhythmic skeleton made this track a front-runner for repeat plays. The album closes with “Kansas City Shuffle” which was a stark reminder that these may be Kelowna boys but the grit, soul, and energy is pure south.  Rooted with an almost country twang it picks up the pace a bit and finishes as tightly as the effort started.

There’s a whole lot of babble above but the bottom line is this: sometimes you just cannot describe a great album.  Sometimes you just have to hear it, feel it, and know it.  The Wild! have yet to outdo themselves but I love the process of them trying.  Reminiscent of tunes that have lasted the ages, and continue to circulate on playlists today, Wild At Heart is an album that signs, seals, and delivers on its promise to blow up your skirt, throw back your drink, and take you on a ride you’ll be wont to forget - one you’ll want to ride over and over again.